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Only who skillful and his players rightly asses has good cards into the contest about valuable planet-E combination. Already with few norms and material itsel develops an exacting and dramatic play.
Glücksritter Spiele is one of the newer of the one-man companies that help make Essen interesting. These days the websites and the newsletters mean that you know in advance what the big companies will be offering and so any surprises will come from the little guys. Oliver came to people's attention two years ago with Rigatoni Intriganti, followed it up last year with a game called Flower Power and this year doubled the range by producing two new games-a boardgame about stealing the Mona Lisa and this little card game.
It is another instance of a card game that is built round an idea for a scoring system and the initial concept is not dissimilar to that which provides the starting point for another of the new Essen card games, Nicht die Bohne, that I reviewed last time. Both have cards that are a mixture of value cards and multipliers; and in both each turn sees cards assigned to players and placed in front of them for all to see. However, that is where the similarity stops and the feel of the two games is very different. More malicious targeting of helpless victims in Nicht die Bohne; more control over your own destiny in Galaxis.
The cards consist of 18 'planet' cards, 15 multipliers and 24 'value' cards. The planet cards and the multipliers are the scorers. The value cards are used in bidding for the scorers. The planet cards each have a colour (red, yellow or green) and a base value (in the range -3 to +3). To score at all they need to be paired with a multiplier. Multipliers are either x0, x1 or x2. The value cards are numbered 1 to 6 and each player begins the game with one of each.
At the start of the game the scoring cards are split into three face down decks of 11 cards each. The back of each card tell you whether it is a planet or a multiplier. The start player (a job that circulates) turns up three of the cards. These are taken and turned face up one at a time. Each card taken may be from any of the three decks and so the player is almost always in a position to choose which mix of planets and multipliers they want, though they don't know the actual value of the card until after they have made their choice. The three cards are then auctioned and again the start player begins. A bid consists of one or more value cards from your hand and these are placed face down in front of you. You may make up to three bids, though three is rarely a good idea. The other players then make their bids in similar fashion. The bid cards are now turned face up and the three highest bids get the three scoring cards on offer, with the highest bid getting first choice. You now place any scoring cards that you have obtained in one of the tableaux, either yours or an opponent's--good cards to you, bad ones to one of the opposition. A card may be placed either as a singleton or next to an existing singleton so as to form a pair. A pair must consist of a planet and a multiplier.
All the value cards you used in your bids, whether or not the bids were successful, are now passed to your left-hand opponent. Bid high one round and you are likely to find yourself poor the next.
This continues until only three scoring cards are left unclaimed. These are then turned face up and auctioned off, but this time only the highest bid is successful. This bidder takes the card of their choice and the last two go unclaimed. The game is now scored. Each singleton is worth nothing. The scores for each pair are added by colour and the subtotals multiplied by the number of pairs you have in that colour. This gives you a total for each colour and the sum of these three totals is your score for the hand. For example, were I to have a singleton yellow +3, two red pairs consisting of a +2 paired with a x2 and a -1 paired with a x0 and one green pair consisting of a +1 paired with a x1, my scores would be: 0 for yellow, 8 for red ( (2 x 2) + ((-1) x 0) = 4, doubled because there are two pairs) and 1 for green. Total: 9.
As with most card games, it is a bit slight if you only play one hand, but since a hand should only take about 15 minutes you can easily play several. Do that and you have a pretty decent little card game offering good scope for tactics--when to bid high, when to hold back and where to place scoring cards. The address of Glücksritter Spiele is Fichtenweg 6, D-90596 Schwanstetten, Germany. The price I have given is the one he was charging at Essen. Postage and packing will obviously need to be added. (And in case you were wondering, the cards are of professional quality. This is not a laser printer and guillotine job.)